Despite what the bright lights and jam-packed arenas might tell you, the NBA is not a glamorous business for a lot of players involved. As superstars such as Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo stand as the faces of the league with their likeness being featured in numerous commercials, there are a plethora of players throughout the NBA that go through the struggle of not getting playing time or being one bad game from being released. Those types of tribulations probably hurt even worse for players that started their pro career with the highs of being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
An example of that kind of player is Rashad Vaughn, whom the Bucks selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. That decision was due to the combination of the team needing backcourt depth with Rashad Vaughn standing as a one-and-done prospect that played above expectations during his lone season with UNLV. During his lone season with UNLV, Vaughn averaged 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 44% from field and 38% from beyond the arc on 6.1 attempts per game.
Unfortunately, the optimism dissipated once Vaughn actually started to play for the Bucks as he struggled throughout his rookie season. In 70 games with the Bucks, he averaged 3.1 points and 1.3 rebounds on only 31% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc on 2.1 attempts in 14 minutes per game. While most rookies that put up those kind of numbers would be sent down their G League affiliate to get some more reps, that unfortunately wasn’t case for Vaughn as the Bucks didn’t get their own minor league affiliate until the 2017-18 season.
That situation became more dire after that rookie season ended as Vaughn struggled at Summer League and didn’t show any statistical growth during the 2016-17 campaign where he put up 3.6 points and 1.2 rebounds on 36% from field and 32% from beyond the arc.
After another lackluster season combined with them adding Malcolm Brogdon and Sterling Brown, it seemed like Vaughn’s days with the team were numbered. That thought was solidified shortly before the start of the 2017-18 season as the Bucks declined to pick up Vaughn’s 4th year option which let him be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Although he was still technically part of the Bucks roster, his time with the team had a definite end date.
However, the expiration of his Bucks career came earlier than expected as the team traded him on February 5th to Brooklyn Nets for Tyler Zeller. That trade was just the start of what would be a stressful month of February, Just three days after getting dealt to Brooklyn, Vaughn was traded to New Orleans for Dante Cunningham. Unfortunately, the Pelicans decided to waive Vaughn just two days later on February 10th. Ten days after that, Vaughn seemed to have some good news as the Magic signed him to a 10-day deal.
While he was signed to another 10-day on March 2nd, the Magic decided to waive him after going down with a sore right knee. That move from Orlando wound up putting a premature end to Vaughn’s 2017-18 season.
The struggles continued into the following year as he was both signed and waived by the Dallas Mavericks over the course of three days during the 2018 NBA Training Camp. As we later found out, that move from Dallas was to acquire Vaughn’s G League rights so he can be allocated to the Texas Legends.
Despite being in a league where it seemed like he’d have more success, Vaughn still went through his struggles with inefficiency as a member of the Texas Legends. In 25 minutes per game, he averaged 13.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 38% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 5.9 attempts per game.
Those averages led to him maintaining a lackluster 49% True Shooting Percentage. That inefficiency combined with a decrease in playing time pushed the Legends to trade Vaughn and a 2019 third-round pick to the Delaware Blue Coats in exchange for the returning player rights to Askia Booker and a 2019 2nd round pick.
For the first time since his one year stint at UNLV, Vaughn has been a consistent offensive weapon with the Blue Coats. In 16 games with Delaware, he’s averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game on 46% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc on 6.7 attempts per game.
With those solid numbers, he’s maintaining a stellar 60% True Shooting Percentage, Vaughn’s sudden progression into being an efficient volume scorer has pushed the Blue Coats to being a better team. For one, the Blue Coats’ offense are 11 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court (100.4 points per 100) compared to when he’s on the sidelines (99.1 points per 100).
Vaughn’s tremendous impact has played a big factor behind Delaware going 9-8 since he made his debut with the team on January 5th. Although that barely puts the team above .500, it’s a huge step in the right direction considering that they were 8-13 when the UNLV alum was with the Legends.
In terms of his work as a scorer, his knack as a perimeter shooter has stood as the epicenter of his all-around offensive arsenal. At least during his time with the Blue Coats, the majority of his work as a shooter has come in the catch-and-shoot. After receiving passes from drive-and-dish guards or unselfish bigs, he puts up a solid jumper from well beyond the 3-point line.
The biggest area of growth for Vaughn on the offensive end has to be his work as a facilitator due to averaging 3.1 assists per game since joining Delaware. While that doesn’t seem like much, it’s definitely apparent as his previous career best was 1.6 assists per game during his lone season at UNLV. Vaughn’s sudden progression as a facilitator definitely seems to be a product of the Blue Coats’ wide-open offense designed around player movement and just basic unselfishness.
Although you definitely won’t see him slinging drive-and-dish passes like John Gillon or Chris Chiozza, Vaughn has been a solid facilitator by being unselfish and being able to quickly develop on-court chemistry with the other four players on the court.
Those two traits are evident from his work as a facilitator in pick-and-rolls and how he capture the defense’s attention by driving from the perimeter to the free throw line before throwing a pass to an off-ball cutter. That second trait is seen in the clip below as Vaughn works around a screen, moves near the free throw line, and then throws a nice jump pass to a cutting Keenan Evans.
Due to his efficient perimeter shooting and growth as a facilitator, Rashad Vaughn has definitely one of the G League’s best backcourt players since arriving in Delaware. That strong play has also allowed the Blue Coats to be a pretty respectable squad after being well below .500 before Vaughn arrived. With that total package in mind, it would seem only right for a team to give him a 10-day deal if they’re looking for a temporary fix to their 2nd unit.
However, teams throughout the NBA may be hesitant to give him a shot due to him being an inefficient offensive weapon during the vast majority of his pro career. Those struggles can leave teams weary on taking a chance on him despite how solid he might’ve been in the nearly two months since he joined Delaware.
That predicament ultimately leaves Vaughn with one objective; continue to play at the same level for the remainder of the season.From the perspective of a scorer, that basically means that Vaughn should continue to shine as an efficient perimeter threat while also occasionally being able to drive to the rim. In addition to that, the Blue Coats guard should keep on trying to progress as a distributor that can find cutters and create plays with his pick-and-roll partner.
If those skills can mesh together as a total package then Rashad Vaughn might actually be closer to reaching his potential as a player than anybody really thought just two months ago. Could that lead to a 10-day contract towards the end of the NBA season? Or will we have to wait until the offseason for that NBA opportunity to come? We’re going to have to wait and see to find out the answer to that question.